“The COVID-19 vaccine developed by the Gamaleya centre will be registered on August 12. At the moment, the last, third, stage is underway. The trials are extremely important. We have to understand that the vaccine must be safe. Medical professionals and senior citizens will be the first to get vaccinated,” Gridnev told reporters, according to reports. After the registration, the vaccine will be reportedly tested on about 1,600 people to ensure its safety and effectiveness.
In April, Russia President Vladimir Putin ordered state officials to shorten the time of clinical trials for a variety of drugs, including potential coronavirus vaccines.
Clinical trials of the vaccine began on June 17 among 76 volunteers. Half were injected with a vaccine in liquid form and the other half with a vaccine that came as soluble powder, according to news agency AP.
Initial reports showed immunity in all participants, the Russian Defence Ministry said. “The results of the check-up clearly demonstrate an unmistakable immune response attained through the vaccination. No side effects or issues with the body of the volunteers were found”, the ministry said, according to Sputnik News.
“We are very much counting on starting mass production in September,” Industry Minister Denis Manturov said in an interview published by state news agency TASS.
World Health Organization on Tuesday urged Russia to follow the established guidelines for producing safe and effective vaccines after Moscow announced plans to start swiftly producing COVID-19 jabs.
“There are established practices and there are guidelines out,” WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told reporters at the United Nations in Geneva. “Between finding or having a clue of maybe having a vaccine that works, and having gone through all the stages, is a big difference.” he said.
Apart from the vaccine formulated by the Gamaleya Research Institute, Russia’s Vektor State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology has also started developing a COVID-19 vaccine.
“I’m worried that Russia is cutting corners so that the vaccine that will come out may be not just ineffective, but also unsafe,” said Lawrence Gostin, a global public health law expert at Georgetown University.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease specialist, questioned the fast-track approach last week. “I do hope that the Chinese and the Russians are actually testing a vaccine before they are administering the vaccine to anyone, because claims of having a vaccine ready to distribute before you do testing I think is problematic at best,” he said.
(With inputs from agencies)